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Rotterdam and Schiedam offer many specialised doctors, and the Erasmus Medical Centrum is the biggest and most diverse of the eight academic hospitals in the Netherlands. After taking out your (obligatory) national health insurance, one thing is for sure: in Rotterdam, you’re in good medical hands.

In the Netherlands, the family doctor (huisarts), also known as a general practitioner or GP,  plays an important role in healthcare. Your Dutch GP will be your primary physician, compiling your medical information and maintaining contact with most of the medical institutions you need to visit. Before you go to a medical specialist, physiotherapist or psychologist, you must visit the GP first for a referral note. This ensures that the GP is aware of any health problems and can advise you whether you need specialised care and if so, which specialist you need to visit.

First ask for a referral note 

Please be aware it is hard to make an appointment without a referral note from your GP. Moreover, your health insurance company might not reimburse you if you don’t have a referral note from your GP. This rule does not apply to emergency medical care.


In every country, different medical cultures apply. In the Netherlands, medications are prescribed more cautiously than most countries, especially for antibiotics. As a result, your GP might wait a bit longer than you’re accustomed to when prescribing them to you. The reason for this is to decrease the risk of  antibiotic-resistant infections for you as an individual and for the Netherlands in general.

As the Dutch system is rather restrictive, you may find you need prescriptions for things you were able to buy over the counter at home. Your insurance company dictates which medications and brands are covered by your policy. The standard package means that a lot is covered, but there are exceptions. Ask your GP about the cost of the drugs to make sure whether your prescribed medicines are covered.


In the Netherlands, there is a difference between a drugstore/chemist (drogist) and a pharmacy (apotheek). Drugstores supply non-prescription medications such as mild painkillers and antihistamines, baby supplies, general toiletries and cosmetics. Pharmacies are the only place where you can obtain your prescription drugs. A GP is generally affiliated with several pharmacies located close to their practice. If you register with one of these, you will be able to fill your prescriptions more quickly.


There are two types of hospitals in the Netherlands: academic hospitals and peripheral hospitals. All hospitals offer excellent medical care, but the government is encouraging hospitals to specialise in particular areas. Therefore, if you have a serious medical problem, ask your GP which hospital will be able to help you best in your specific situation.

Please note that hospitals generally have a waiting list; sometimes it can take months before you receive treatment. It may therefore be advisable to call different hospitals that offer the same medical treatment to see if the same treatment can be arranged sooner. There are six hospitals in Rotterdam; a list is provided below*. Ask your GP to find out more about the hospitals in the surrounding areas.

Emergency hospital 

If you are in an emergency situation and you need an ambulance to bring you to the hospital immediately, you can call the pan-European 112 emergency phone number. Dialling this number will connect you to a central operator who will inquire what services are needed and ensure that the proper authorities are alerted. Calls are answered within three seconds, and the operators will speak English if you start to talk in English.

Dental care 

You can register yourself and your family at any dentist, if they have availability for you; call your local dentist to check whether they are accepting new clients. Health insurance covers children under 18 for all costs. You can opt to take out an extra health insurance package to cover certain dental care expenses, but this is not included in the standard package for all people above 18 years. Also, please check first whether your chosen dentist is covered by your health insurance.

After registration, your dentist will generally contact you via post or email for a regular check-up every six months. The dentist will perform most routine procedures himself. Anaesthesia will generally not be given automatically; you have to request it from your dentist before your dental treatment.

Emergency dentist 

Do you have a dental emergency? Call your dentist! Outside office hours, your dentist’s voicemail should tell you how to find an emergency dentist near you. There is also an emergency dentist on staff at Erasmus Medical Centre, reachable on +31 (0)10-4552155.

Hospitals in Rotterdam 

Erasmus Medical Centre
Tel: +31 (0)10 704 0704
‘s Gravendijkwal 230
3015 CE Rotterdam
Ikazia ziekenhuis
Tel: +31 (0)10 297 5000
Montessoriweg 1
3083 AN Rotterdam
Erasmus MC/ Sophia
Tel: +31 (0)10 704 0704
Dr Molewaterplein 60
3015 GJ Rotterdam
Maasstad Ziekenhuis
Tel: +31 (0)10 – 2 911 911
Maasstadweg 21
3079 DZ Rotterdam
St Franciscus Ziekenhuis
Tel: +31 (0)10 – 4616161
Kleiweg 500
3045 pm Rotterdam

Hospital in Schiedam

Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland
Tel. +31 (0)10 – 893 8040
Vlietlandplein 1
3118 JH Schiedam